Nazi scientists attempted to breed an army of educated dogs that could read, write and talk. "In the 1920s, Germany had numerous ‘new animal psychologists’ who believed dogs were nearly as intelligent as humans, and capable of abstract thinking and communication," writes Cardiff University historian Jan Bondeson in his new book Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities.
Scientists envisioned a day when dogs would serve alongside German troops and perhaps free up SS officers by guarding concentration camps. Hitler set up a Tier-Sprechschule (Animal Talking School) near Hanover and recruited “educated dogs” from throughout the country.
Teachers claimed a number of incredible findings. An Airedale terrier named Rolf became a mythic figure of the project after teachers said he could spell by tapping his paw on a board (the number of taps represented the various letters of the alphabet). With that skill in hand, he mused on religion, learned foreign languages and even asked a noblewoman, "Can you wag your tail?" Perhaps most outlandish is the claim by his German masters that he asked to serve in the German army because he disliked the French. Another mutt barked "Mein Fuhrer" when asked to describe Hitler.
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